The premises of the rate increase are several: that the Fed knows best what interest rate is good for the economy... that a recovery is sufficiently established to permit an end to the emergency micro rates of the last seven years... and that otherwise everything is more or less hunky-dory. And they are all false!
Wall Street’s proclivity to create serial equity bubbles off the back of cheap credit has once again set up the middle class for disaster. The warning signs of this next correction have now clearly manifested, but are being skillfully obfuscated and trivialized by financial institutions. Nevertheless, here are ten salient warning signs that astute investors should heed as we roll into 2016.
As soon as the Fed moves money market rates upwards, unproductive parts of the economy will come under severe strain which in turn sets in motion recessionary forces prompting the Fed to reverse course. The only way out is to realize that the world is awash in mal-invested capital that need to be written off. Since that is inconceivable for today’s vested interests, the way forward will be further “Japanification” of the global economy. And this time we are all out of arrows.
"Corporate balance sheet deterioration may well be a theme in 2016, raising market concerns, in our view. A mirror image of that is the rise in bank non- performing loans. Our contacts among the banks seem increasingly concerned about the NPL issue in 2016."
The chart below crystalizes why the Fed is stranded in a monetary no man’s land. By the time of next week’s meeting the federal funds rate will have been pinned at about 10 bps, or effectively zero, for 84 straight months. After one pretension, delusion, head fake and forecasting error after another, the denizens of the Eccles Building have painted themselves into the most dangerous monetary corner in history. They have left themselves no alternative except to provoke a riot in the casino - the very outcome that has filled them with fear and dread all these years.
Over the weekend, in its latest quarterly presentation, the Bank of International Settlements made what may have been a very premature assessment that China is now contained. Judging by events in the past 24 hours, the reality is anything but.
Overnight, Credit Suisse became the latest bank to join Goldman, JPM and increasingly more banks in predicting that 2016 will be a year in which investors will want to rotate out of equities. Specifically, the second largest Swiss bank said that it is "we reduce our equity weightings to our most cautious strategic stance since 2008 and take our mid-2016 S&P 500 target down to 2,150, the same as our end-2016 target." Here are the five reasons why CS just looked at the mounting wall of worry... and began to worry.
Last night’s Asia action brought another warning that the global deflation cycle is accelerating. Iron ore broke below $40 per ton for the first time since the central banks kicked off the world’s credit based growth binge two decades ago; it’s now down 40% this year and 80% from its 2011-212 peak. This implosion of demand cannot be remedied with another round of central bank money printing because the world is already at peak debt. Accordingly, global corporate profit cycle is heading into a deep downturn, just as the equity markets go into a final spasm of levitation based on a handful of big cap stocks.
"The US corporate financing gap – the difference between cash flow generation and spending on capex and dividends – has turned strongly negative. In the past, when the financing gap went strongly negative, the next downturn was just around the corner."